Harvey Holds His Own Reviews

School Library Journal

Cover: Harvey Holds His Own Author: Colleen Nelson Illustrator: Tara Anderson Publisher: Pajama Press

“Relieved to have her spirited West Highland terrier Harvey back after he wandered away from home in the previous book, Harvey Comes Home (2019), Maggie is settling in to her new school when the seventh grade girls learn they are required to complete service hours….This sweet dog story competently explores multiple themes. As with the first book, the innate value of learning from and listening to the elderly is highlighted. Maggie develops respect and fondness for the residents of Brayside and the lives they have lived. She also experiences the shifting social dynamics of middle school, painfully learning that expanding her circle of companions can be beneficial as old friends drift away….VERDICT With the winning combination of a relatable main character and an adorable dog, this book should find a home with readers seeking a warmhearted tale of growth and connection.”
—Nancy Nadig, Penn Manor Sch. Dist., Lancaster, PA

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Kirkus Reviews

“Characters…are lovingly developed, resulting in a deeply engaging coming-of-age story. Anderson’s soft, pencil illustrations set up each chapter. Another fine effort that wraps up some loose ends but also explores worthy new ground.”

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Foreword Reviews

“Colleen Nelson’s heartwarming novel Harvey Holds His Own is about friendship, loyalty, and the importance of staying true to oneself, no matter the obstacles….

Harvey’s love for his people, his desire to protect his territory, and his curiosity for the world around him are authentic reflections of canine personalities. The memories that Mrs. Fradette shares are interesting for their glimpses into the past, and Maggie and Austin both navigate difficult situations with maturity and consideration for those around them.

Harvey Holds His Own is a charming novel whose important life lessons are bettered by the love of a good dog.”
—Catherine Thureson (July / August 2020)

Read the full review in the July/August 2020 issue of Foreword Reviews

YA Books Central

“What I loved: I found Maggie to be particularly compelling, and I appreciated her struggles with evolving friendships and the quest for popularity that becomes so common in middle school. Harvey’s perspective adds a cuteness to the book that will appeal to young readers who love pets. I also appreciated the members of the retirement community and the perspectives they have throughout. The residents are really special and their characters add a lot to the story. The illustrations throughout are also really great and just as cute as the image of Harvey on the cover….

Final verdict: With fantastic characters and unique perspectives, Harvey Holds His Own is a middle grade contemporary that will appeal to the preteen audience well. Great for animal lovers and middle schoolers dealing with evolving friendships.”
—Olivia Farr

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Canadian Children’s Book News

“In Harvey Holds His Own, the story continues a year later with Maggie and her two closest friends starting Grade 7 at St. Ambrose Academy….Both Harvey Comes Home and Harvey Holds His Own are heartwarming tales that will be much loved by anyone who has ever owned a dog or wanted one. The narrative perspective alternating between Harvey, Maggie and Austin draws the reader in and middle grade students will easily relate to the nuanced characters Nelson has created. The chapters are also kept short so that even reluctant readers will not find these stories too challenging to read. Being a dog lover myself I can see how readers will be attracted to these inspirational stories. I highly encourage parents, teachers and librarians to add these two titles to their shelves and hope there will be another story coming soon.”
—Sandra O’Brien

Read the full review on page 32 of the Fall 2020 issue of Canadian Children’s Book News

CM Magazine

“The sequel to Harvey Comes Home is narrated in alternating chapters by Maggie, Austin, and Harvey. In a gently paced and heartfelt way, Nelson juggles three separate but intersecting story trajectories…Fans of the original and newcomers alike will relish the riveting friendship story contained within the pages of Harvey Holds His Own. Highly Recommended.”
—Kay Weisman is a former youth services librarian at West Vancouver Memorial Library.

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Winnipeg Free Press

“Harvey is the star: a lovable, brave and resourceful little dog.”

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CanLit for LittleCanadians

It’s funny how a little dog can help people without even trying. (pg.73)…

I am always apprehensive of animal stories as I anticipate hardships like vulnerabilities, injury and cruelty, especially at the hands of humans. Unfortunately, these things do happen in reality and they always leave me emotionally shattered. But Colleen Nelson, with her compassionate heart and love for Westies–there is a photo of her with her own family’s–gives us a story of a girl, a boy and a dog (or two) that will make readers happy, both entertaining and reassuring them that things can work out well in the end. And while many will be drawn to this middle-grade novel because it is an animal story at its core, there are important messages about courage and perseverance, friendships new and old, and even love.

Loving something always comes with a risk; that’s what makes it so special. (pg. 245)

I had to take a risk reading Harvey Holds His Own because of my own anxieties. What I got for that risk was a lovely story–with chapter headings delightfully illustrated by Tara Anderson–that reassures that there are good people who will always do right by others, whether they be their canine families, seniors in a long-term care facility, or friends. And isn’t it nice to know, especially nowadays, that there is goodness out there?”

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Band of MG Books

“I was thrilled to learn that Harvey’s story would continue after reading the award-winning Harvey Comes Home last October. Colleen Nelson’s touching and wonderfully layered sequel, Harvey Holds His Own, tells a story of change, connection, and courage….Colleen Nelson skillfully writes and brilliantly intertwines multiple, relatable themes of friendship, understanding, forgiveness, and even a bit of Winnipeg history in this engaging story combined with an irresistible, furry friend. Along with delightful, expertly shaded illustrations by Tara Anderson, Harvey Holds His Own is a heartfelt and wholly enjoyable read that will leave you with the warmest of feelings.”

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Ms. Yingling Reads

Strengths: Brayside is portrayed as a positive environment for older residents, with activities, parties, and lots of socializing. The reality of residents ailing and dying is not glossed over, but I appreciated especially that the smell of the place was described as clean and pleasant; Maggie had thought it would smell like moth balls! Harvey is a great dog, and his interactions with the residents is very touching. Maggie’s friendship with Mrs. Fradette (and Mrs. Fradette’s vintage car!) really shine in this book, and her story is much happier than Mr. Pickering’s….

What I really think: I liked this better than the first book, which had some violent moments. I liked the combination of dogs with history from senior citizens, so will probably purchase the series.”

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Storytime with Stephanie

“I love how Colleen Nelson tells this story in three different voices….There is such a wonderful cast of characters in this book, especially all of the seniors at Brayside. Colleen Nelson has captured so many different personalities among the residents and has painted seniors in a way to inform young readers about all the knowledge, wisdom and life that can be learned from the older generation. She makes volunteering with the elderly seem like a huge adventure and through this story will entice readers to maybe sit down with a grandparent and learn more about life when they were younger or encourage them to pack their mandatory volunteer hours with time spent listening and sharing with those in a retirement community.

Harvey Holds His Own is such a feel good story. This story will leave the reader feeling all warm and fuzzy inside and secretly hoping for another Harvey tale.”

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Canadian Bookworm

“I really enjoyed this book, as we see Maggie grow and venture into new experiences. She shows good character, and we learn a little about Winnipeg history as well….

The drawings bring Harvey to life, and I liked how the drawing at the start of each chapter gave a hint to the story to come.

There are lots of interesting characters here, and I look forward to more books about Harvey and the people he loves.”

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Jill’s Book Blog

Rating: ★★★★★

This story was so cute…uplifting and cheery…

There are three alternating perspectives in this story. I love that parts that are from Harvey’s perspective. He spends a lot of time sniffing things and cataloguing them for later. It’s great to see this dog perspective. The two other perspectives are from Maggie’s and Austin’s points of view. Austin’s is in first person, since he was a main character in the first book and this one. Maggie didn’t have a big role in the first book, so her chapters are written from the third person point of view. It made a distinction between hers and Austin’s chapters, even though they were both main characters. However, it worked since it is a continuation of the first book.

This is a great story! It could be read as a stand-alone or as a sequel to Harvey Comes Home.”

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